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Ecología austral

versión On-line ISSN 1667-782X


BARRERA, Marcelo D; FRANGI, Jorge L; FERRANDO, Juan J  y  GOYA, Juan F. Litter decomposition and net foliar nutrient release of Austrocedrus chilensis (D. Don) Pic. Serm. et Bizzarri forests in El Bolsón, Río Negro. Ecol. austral [online]. 2004, vol.14, n.2, pp.99-112. ISSN 1667-782X.

Decomposition constant of fallen leaves, thin (< 1 cm diameter) and coarse (1-5 cm) branches and stems (> 5 cm) were determined in mature stands of Austrocedrus chilensis. Leaves and branches were field-incubated (522 days) using litter bags while a chronosequence of stems was employed. Foliar decay rate k did not show significant differences among stands and the mean for the pool was 0.27 year-1. The k constant was 0.095, 0.06 and 0.013 year-1 for thin, coarse branches and stems, respectively. Half-life was 2.6, 7.4, 12 and 53 years for leaves, thin and coarse branches and stems, respectively. Elemental concentration (N, Ca, Al, Fe) and total ash in decaying leaves increased, did not change (S, Mn) or decreased (P, K, Mg) during leaves decomposition assay. There was no net N-release from leaves decomposition. For other nutrients, release rate and ranking was K (0.60) ≥ P (0.59) > Mg (0.40) > S (0.21) > Ca (0.10). Calcium release rate was slower than decay, while Mg, P and K released more quickly. After initial release, Fe, Al and Mn showed a non-significant but consistent slight immobilization. We conclude that (1) detritus decay rates decrease with size increase, (2) differences among stands do not influence significantly foliar decay rates, (3) foliar nutrient release is different for each chemical element and some of them do not fit described models, (4) N-content seems to be constant during decomposition period, (5) release is faster for the more mobile nutrients, especially during phase I, (6) the increase in Ca and its lower release rate with respect to dry mass decay rate may cause a relative Ca increment in the F-layer, and a somewhat similar but more marked sink could occur with microelements, (7) the slight increase of Fe and Al in leaf-litter suggests that their availability do not allow high microbial traslocation and immobilization, and do not attain toxic levels, (8) foliar decay rates were in the range of Northern Hemisphere conifers, and similar or lower than those of broad-leaved evergreen and deciduous Nothofagus spp., respectively, from South America, (9) coarse woody debris decay rates were similar or slightly higher than for Northern Hemisphere conifers and lower than for Nothofagus spp. from Tierra del Fuego.

Palabras clave : Coniferous; Leaves; Fine and coarse woody debris; Stems.

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